Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Right and the Wrong

Or, the crazy things my mind does to me.

Sometimes fabric becomes too precious.  We try to save it for the perfect project.  I have been thinking about this problem lately as I plan to make a quilt, "Fractured", from Kathy Doughty's book, Making Quilts.  I saw the pattern and instantly thought of a roll of Kaffe Fasset fabric at my local quilt shop.  I thought about that roll of fabric for months and tried to plan one or more fabrics to coordinate with it.  Finally, this month, I bought it!  I envisioned the blue/purple/green Kaffe fabrics with a black and white text print.  It seemed perfect and I was happy.

Last week, I started thinking about Kaffe's style and the organic shapes and worried that maybe the black and white text print would be too edgy or somehow "wrong" for my project.  What if friends who looked at it thought I made a bad choice?  What if my mom didn't like it?  I began to reconsider my choice.  Then another voice in my head told me I should do it just because it was something I felt like doing and who cared what other people thought as long as I liked it?

So I have been feeling a bit stuck.  Not that I can start the project right now anyway--I am still collecting a few more fabrics I need (plus whatever contrasting fabric(s))--but I feel like I can't start this quilt.  My compromise, I think, is to make one or two blocks with some of the fabric I had in mind and see what I think.

Contemplating a combination
The black and white text is so awesome and nonsensical.  It reminds me of magnetic poetry.

If you are ever plagued with doubts about a quilt, do you worry that a particular person will dislike it?  Do you have problems with the preciousness of fabrics or can you just cut right into them without concern?

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Spring Shifting

As I was eating breakfast this morning the sun rose above the tree tops and shone in my face.  I get very little direct sunlight in my apartment and I can't remember the last time that happened, though I have the faint recollection that it did happen.

I am preparing to cast on for a new spring/summer sweater!

The pattern is Cinnie by Chic Knits (my go to designer for sweater patterns).  I am using Simplicity by Hikoo.  Note the presence of the gauge swatch in the picture below!  I never knit a sweater without checking my gauge.  I got gauge on the recommended needle size (unusual for me) and have the swatch blocking.

 Here is a more accurate photo of the yarn color.

Everything I have made lately has been red or orange.  Winter makes me want to work with very warm colors.  The other reason is that I used to think I couldn't wear orange and I could wear red if it was a blue red.  My friend, Cynthia Spencer, became a Color Me Beautiful consultant this fall and did my colors.  Some of the colors and shades I was wearing were wrong because I thought I was a winter (though I didn't follow those color rules strictly) and I wore cooler colors but I should have been wearing warm colors.  All those years I thought I couldn't wear orange (well, I still shouldn't wear athletic team orange) and it turns out that I look good in orange!  Ha ha!

Color Me Beautiful now has a computer system to help determine which are your best colors. The consultant matches your eye, skin and hair color to color cards, and also uses color drapes (swatches of fabric) to check your season and then puts the info in the computer.  It tells you what type of season you are.  I opted to order my color palette which is a little set of cards with my 40 best colors/shades.

I can't tell you how much easier it is to shop for clothes or yarn now.  The colors of my clothes actually look good together.  I do have a lot of yarn that isn't really in my best colors.  I may sell some of it on eBay and use some of it to play around with in weaving.  At least now I have a good excuse to buy more yarn, right? ;)  The color palette is also good inspiration for quilting.

Speaking of quilting, I joined a Kaffe and Friends block of the month hosted by my LQS.  I am a little behind because I just finished the block for January.  Oops! :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Dusting off the cobwebs

Winter.  It was tough!  I didn't want to go anywhere or blog anything.  I just wanted to sit on my couch under a quilt and knit and watch movies.  I did that as much as I could when I wasn't working. :)  Now that things are warming up, my energy and enthusiasm are returning.  Here are some things I managed to do during those chilly months.

I started a Christmas quilt.  Ha!

I made spring decorations.

I played with the app, "Waterlogue."

I made this awesome felt bird.  Snowbirds pattern by mmmcrafts on Etsy.  Very well written!

Went cross-country skiing.  This is playing in the snow for grownups, if you ask me.

I have lots of projects finished and in progress but very few good pictures.  Updates to come!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2013 Was a Crafty Year!

I feel like I really met my goals in 2013.  I finished up some old quilts and started (and finished) some new ones.

Quilt Making 2013

I finished two sweaters that had been hanging around and knitted many other projects. The green hat in the mosaic was technically finished at the end of 2012 but I never got a chance to photograph it. Not pictured: a pair of socks for my mom, another sweater, a shawl and a cowl that I finished in the last few months of the year.

Knitting 2013

I did some serious bag sewing! I made 7 Jane Market bags as Christmas presents. I also made another divided basket which I forgot to include in the mosaic.

Sewing 2013

Less crochet happened this year. I think that was due to the amount of time I spent preparing my crochet pattern for publishing on Ravelry and the fact that knitting and quilting really consumed me. Finishing up the skull garland I started years ago made me REALLY happy!

Crochet 2013

In weaving, I started playing with color patterns and want to focus on that more in 2014. I have The Weaver's Idea book and would like to experiment with several of the patterns, perhaps on a sampler. I also want to make more towels as gifts. Cross stitch is something I would like to do more of in 2014 and that I meant to do more of in 2013. I have too many hobbies so that one falls by the wayside! I hope to do a Halloween and Christmas ornament each year and finish up a larger UFO.

Weaving and Cross Stitch 2013 

I think 2014 is going to be a good year!  I plan to do lots of making and just finished my first FO of the year this evening.  More on that soon.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Tunisian Crochet Entrelac Scarf and Neck Warmer

Today I present to you my first crochet design!  The Tunisian Crochet Entrelac Scarf and Neck Warmer gives you the look of a complicated woven pattern but all you need are a regular crochet hook and sock yarn dyed with long color changes.

Pair the neck warmer or scarf with a long sleeve shirt and jeans in the cool autumn air or tuck it in under your coat to keep your neck cozy and warm in winter.

Photographs by Cynthia Spencer

This is a great pattern for those sock yarns with long color changes like Noro Silk Garden Sock, Noro Taiyo and Crystal Palace Yarns Mini Mochi.  Watching each color pop up while you crochet is really fun and people will think you had to change yarns every couple of rows.  It is always nice when you can show off something that looks harder than it actually is!  Adding buttons to the neck warmer is easy and gives it a nice detail.

I have had the pleasure of teaching this pattern twice now: at my local yarn shop, Stitch Your Art Out, and at this year's Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival.  My students were great and got the hang of the pattern after a little practice.  As with knit entrelac, I think Tunisian crochet entrelac takes a bit of time to get the hang of it and then, after a few repeats of the pattern rows, you begin to understand and memorize the technique.  The pattern includes several close-up shots to guide you.

Neck Warmer: 8 x 31.5 inches
Scarf: 7 x 72 inches

Neck Warmer: Noro Silk Garden Sock (1 skein)
Scarf: Noro Kureyon Sock (2 skeins)
any fingering weight yarn with long color changes will show off the entrelac pattern nicely

Gauge is not critical for this project

Size 5.5mm (I) for foundation chain
Size 4.0mm (G) for pattern
Because of the yarn weight and small number of stitches on the hook, you can use regular crochet hooks rather than Tunisian hooks for this project.

Locking stitch markers, darning needle, 
optional for neck warmer: sewing thread, hand sewing needle, 4 buttons about 1 inch in diameter.

Price: $7.00

Monday, September 23, 2013

Halloween Things Started Years Ago

I saw a super cool Day of the Dead crocheted skull on Ravelry years ago (2010) and decided I had to try making it.  Then I got it into my head that it should be a garland of skulls.  I continued making skulls here and there and finally blocked them all last fall.

Black and orange rovings were purchased to make felted beads to strand between the skulls.  When I tried to actually make the beads, I realized how hard it was and that it would take FOREVER.  I finally found someone on Etsy (CraftyWoolFelt) who sells black and orange felted balls in the size I wanted.  Thank goodness I could pay someone else to make them for me!

Halloween garland finishing time!

I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to secure everything, but ultimately I just slid the felt balls on, then looped the thread once through the top of the skulls.  That way, everything can be repositioned but nothing moves easily.

A year earlier, in 2009, I started some cool Halloween cross stitch ornaments from the Prairie Schooler (Boo to You).  As I am wont to do, I underestimated how long it would take to stitch a single ornament, so I had to scale back my plans to one per year.  It occurred to me that I didn't have to wait until I had stitched all 8 ornaments to finish and start enjoying them, so I finally got around to turning the ones I had stitched into ornaments.

FYI, you can't cut this felt with pinking shears, you need a rotary cutter with a pinking blade.  The hardest part about finishing the ornaments was trying to center the design over the piece of cardboard, especially because my cross stitch fabric seemed crooked.  Also, trying not to get glue all over everything is a bit tricky.  Still, it is a fun way to finish them---I used the Twisted Stitcher's tutorial.  So my plan is to continue my tradition of an ornament per year and make one for this fall.

I love Halloween and fall decorations so I am very happy about these finishes!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Crocheting in the Round: How and Where to Join

I used to have a blog called Crochet Your Way and I occasionally posted tutorials there to help crocheters with problems I typically encounter when I teach crochet classes.  Today's post is a re-post of a crochet tutorial from  I always meant to share it here one day and I just received an email asking me to post it again.  So here we go!

I know one of the biggest problems crocheters have is trying to determine where to join the beginning and end of a round.  This tutorial should help.  Please note, these instructions are for crocheting in the round, not for crocheting in a spiral.

I am going to demonstrate the first round on a pattern that calls for making:
  • a chain 6 circle, slip stitch to first chain to join in the round
  • then chaining 3 (the chain 3 counts as the first double crochet), and making 17 double crochets in the circle for a total of 18 double crochets, then slip stitching into the 3rd chain of the chain 3 that I started with.  
My pattern uses U.S. terms but the same technique will apply, regardless of which terms you use.

Photo 1.
In Photo 1, you can see that I’ve made the chain 6 circle and have chained 3.

Photo 2.
Photo 2 shows a side view of the chain 3 and the first double crochet.  The 2 black arrows point to the first 2 chains and the pink arrow points to the third chain.   Once you have crocheted all the stitches in the round, this is where you will slip stitch to join the round into a completed circle.  The blue arrow indicates the top of the first double crochet made after the chain 3.  Do not slip stitch into that stitch at the end of the round!

Photo 3.
Photo 3 shows the same thing from a different angle.  Again, you can see the first 2 chains of the chain 3 identified by black arrows.  The third chain (pink arrow) is where you will slip stitch into at the end of the round to close the circle.  The blue arrow shows the top of the first double crochet (technically, your second stitch).  Notice how the top loop of the first double crochet (blue arrow) is to the right of the leg of the stitch (the part that connects to the center).  This can help you identify where not to slip stitch.

Photo 4.
In Photo 4, I have double crocheted 17 double crochets (and I started with a chain 3, that makes 18 double crochets total).  I am about to join the round to close the circle.  Tip: Sometimes it can be difficult to fit all the stitches in that little circle.  Do not be afraid to tug on them and pull them out of the way so you can keep making stitches.  Do not crochet over other stitches you have already made in this round.  My instructions say to slip stitch in the third chain of the chain 3.  The pink arrow shows the third chain.  Try to get your hook under both loops of that chain if you can to make the slip stitch.

Photo 5.
In Photo 5, I am completing the slip stitch.  The pink arrow shows the third chain where my hook is inserted and the blue arrow shows the leg of the double crochet I made after the original chain 3.  There are two loops on my hook: the farthest right loop is from completing the previous stitch and the left loop is my slip stitch that I will now pull through the loop on the right end of the hook to close the circle.

This technique applies whether you are crocheting single crochets or half double crochets or trebles, etc., into a circle.  The only difference is the number of chains you start with at the beginning, which also determines where you will slip stitch at the end:
  • for a single crochet circle, after you’ve made the circle, you start with a chain 1, make your single crochets in the circle and slip stitch into that original chain 1.
  • for a half double crochet circle, after making the circle, chain 2, make your half double crochets around and slip stitch into the 2nd chain of the original chain 2.
  • for a treble crochet circle, after making the circle, chain 4, make your treble crochets into the circle and slip stitch into the 4th chain of the original chain 4 to close it.
Should you count the first chain(s) as a stitch?  Generally, yes, I do.  From what I have found, most patterns and especially charts do count it as a stitch. (this may not apply to crocheting flat (back and forth, it depends on the pattern and stitch).

I hope you’ve found this little explanation helpful!